Feb 27, 2007 11:23am
Re: One of those non-Dead ''This Date In Music History' things
Syd Barrett-led era: 1965–1968
Pink Floyd evolved from an earlier band, formed in 1965, which was at various times called Sigma 6, The Megga Deaths, The Screaming Abdabs, and The Abdabs. When this band split up, some members — guitarists Rado "Bob" Klose and Roger Waters, drummer Nick Mason, and wind instrument player Rick Wright — formed a new band called 'Tea Set'. After a brief stint with a lead vocalist named Chris Dennis, guitarist and vocalist Syd Barrett joined the band, with Waters moving to bass.
When 'Tea Set' found themselves on the same bill as another band with the same name, Barrett came up with the alternative name The Pink Floyd Sound, after two blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. For a time after this they oscillated between 'Tea Set' and 'The Pink Floyd Sound', with the latter name eventually winning out. The Sound was dropped fairly quickly, but the definite article was still used occasionally for several years afterward; David Gilmour is known to have referred to the group as "The Pink Floyd" as late as 1984, though they never released any recordings under that name.
In the early days, the band covered rhythm and blues staples such as "Louie, Louie", but by the time the Pink Floyd name was entrenched, they had gained notoriety for their psychedelic interpretations, with extended improvised sections and 'spaced out' solos.
The heavily jazz-oriented Klose left the band to become a photographer shortly before Pink Floyd started recording, leaving an otherwise stable lineup with Barrett on guitar and lead vocals, Waters on bass guitar and backing vocals, Mason on drums and percussion, and Wright switching to keyboards and backing vocals.
Barrett soon started writing his own songs, influenced by American and British psychedelic rock with his own brand of whimsical humour. Pink Floyd became a favourite in the underground movement, playing at such prominent venues as the UFO club, the Marquee Club and the Roundhouse.
At the end of 1966 the band were invited to contribute music for Peter Whitehead's film Tonite Let's All Make Love in London; they were filmed recording two tracks ("Interstellar Overdrive" and "Nick's Boogie") in January 1967. Although hardly any of this music made it onto the film, the session was eventually released as London 1966/1967 in 2005.
As their popularity increased, the band members formed Blackhill Enterprises in October 1966, a six-way business partnership with their managers, Peter Jenner and Andrew King, issuing the singles "Arnold Layne" (sample (help·info)) in March 1967 and "See Emily Play" in June 1967. "Arnold Layne" reached number 20 in the UK Singles Chart, and "See Emily Play" reached number 6, granting the band its first TV appearance on Top of the Pops in July 1967.
Released in August 1967, the band's debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, is today considered to be a prime example of British psychedelic music, and was generally well-received by critics at the time. It is now viewed as one of the better debut albums by many critics.  The album's tracks, predominantly written by Barrett, showcase poetic lyrics and an eclectic mixture of music, from the avant-garde free-form piece "Interstellar Overdrive" (sample (info)) to whimsical songs such as "The Scarecrow", inspired by the Fenlands, a rural region north of Cambridge (Barrett, Gilmour and Waters's home town). Lyrics were entirely surreal and often referred to folklore, such as "The Gnome" (sample (info)). The music reflected newer technologies in electronics through its prominent use of stereo panning, tape editing, echo effects and electric keyboards. The album was a hit in the UK where it peaked at #6, but did not get much attention in North America, reaching #131 in the U.S., and that only after it was reissued in the wake of the band's stateside commercial breakthrough in the 1970s. During this period, the band toured with Jimi Hendrix, which helped to increase its popularity.